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The proliferation of prizes: Nobel complements and Nobel surrogates in the reward system of science.

Authors
  • Zuckerman, H
Type
Published Article
Journal
Theoretical medicine
Publication Date
Jun 01, 1992
Volume
13
Issue
2
Pages
217–231
Identifiers
PMID: 1412076
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In the last two decades, prizes in the sciences have proliferated and, in particular, rich prizes with large honoraria. These developments raise several questions: Why have rich prizes proliferated? Have they greatly changed the reward system of science? What effects will such prizes have on scientists and on science? The proliferation of such prizes derives from marked limitations on the numbers and types of scientists eligible for Nobel prizes and consequent increases in the number of uncrowned laureate-equivalents. These would-be surrogates for Nobel prizes extend the reward system of science in its upper reaches but this change is not fundamental. The spread of rich prizes to new fields provides added incentives to potential winners, which has its own disutilities; it reinforces competitiveness, concern for priority and attendant secrecy, all this amplifying ambivalence toward the reward system in science. There may also be modest positive effects of such new awards in the form of heightened popular esteem for science and interest in it.

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